CHELSEA INSTEAD OF CHINA? WAKEFIELD INSTEAD OF PARIS? (DO WE JEST?)
Psst…Hey, you travel bugs…could we ask you an innocent question? Since the loonie is so weak, and wacko terrorists are popping up like burned popcorn in popular tourist destinations abroad, wouldn’t it be smart to … vacation closer to home this summer?
And discover some new local marvels?
That was a “Yes” right? So, as a teaser may we suggest a One Day Discovery Tour.
For starters, pack whatever strikes your fancy: camera, swim suit, golf clubs, fishing rod, notebook … whatever. Oh, and an empty jug (tell you why later).
Leave early enough in the morning. Eat nothing before you go. Just bring your appetite and a sense of adventure.
Drive to Chelsea. Make your way to the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre there. You will come out of it with an armful of maps, brochures, of all the region has to offer in its pulsating variety and vitality.
You could have coffee as I did at Le Biscotti, a homey, rustic café, (or any other resto of your choice) while poring over your tourist info treasures.
Hmm… Meech Lake is so close, why not a quick swim?
Or stroll along Chelsea’s burgeoning boutique area with shops like Delilah (stylish women fashion), Le Cigale (an ice cream emporium).
You may drop by Les Saisons Café as I did and be inspired by a senior couple who biked from Island Park Drive in Ottawa and, after their “caffeine /sugar buzz” break, were zipping off to the Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park before cycling back to the city. Whew!
Or you might be piqued by a notice for Musical Tuesdays presenting various musical groups – Stone Age Man, a fun and fiercely individualistic music collective from Wakefield, will perform at Farm Point Park, 322, ch. de la Riviere, Chelsea, on Tuesday, July 19 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Ah, you have itchy feet and want to move on, and Wakefield beckons. It just so happens that it’s a Saturday when the Wakefield Farmers’Market is on, so why not take that in?
Finding it is easy since it’s on Riverside Wakefield’s main drag. The Wakefield Farmers’ Market is legendary – a puckish pastiche of living French Impressionism in its colours and people. Delight in discovering booths of local farmers, artisans, and country cooks offering a groaning board of homegrown local fare.
The mingling smell of flowers and fresh baked goods tickle your nostrils. Your ears wiggle and dance to the engaging guitar picking and singing of troubadour Phil Jenkins.
You buy something yummy to eat – a scone, cookies, an “apple puff” pastry.
You can’t help smiling. Whatever silly pleasantry you say to anyone they repartee in convivial exchange. How sweet it is!
When hunger flirts insistently with your tastebuds, you give in: you walk along the train track by the river munching on some of your goodies. Yum.
As you walk across from the Black Sheep and then the Hibou Café, the patios are in a frenetic roar of animated conversation. Ah, friends of yours are waving. They beckon come join them. You do and one of them takes a selfie sure to get posted on FACEBOOK with the tagline Big Shot Patio Lounge Act!
You say goodbye to your friends and as you walk back across the bridge there’s an older guy fishing there. “Are the fish biting?” you ask. “Nope,” he says, adding, “Don’t matter nohow, just had to get outta the house.”
So you nod. Yep, sometimes you just gotta get outta the house.
Maybe you could go fishing… Or canoe like those folks out on the river…
Instead you decide to visit a friend who lives near Edelweiss Ski and Golf. It’s such a eyeball-pleasing drive along Chemin Edelweiss Valley among rolling emerald hills – you blink and swear you’re in Ireland.
Your friend, like you, has travel fever and suggests you take a drive out to Lake McGregor by Val des Monts (alias Perkins) for a swim. Then to Mont Ste. Marie to check out some hiking trails and an upcoming biking event, Mountain Fest.
While driving back, your friend looks over at that empty jug you brought, and asks,“What’s that for?”.
“Oh, forgot to fill it with water at the roadside spring in Wakefield,” you say.
“Which means you have to go back to Wakefield,” she smiles.
Yes that is true, you smile back. “All roads lead to Wakefield”.
Enjoy your summer!